The St. Louis Blues came to Detroit missing quite a few of their key players for this Central Division matchup. Chris Pronger and Jamal Mayers are both out for the season. Keith Tkachuk was gone for family reasons. Pavol Demitra was gone for, of all things, chickenpox. The Red Wings weren’t in much better shape. Aside from the already-known knee problems of Steve Yzerman, Jiri Fischer, Pavel Datsyuk, and Manny Legace, Igor Larionov and Tomas Holmstrom were both out with what was reported as stomach flu by some sources and food poisoning by others. In either case, both teams had a depleted lineup, but the remaining players put on a tough, entertaining game which ended in a 4-3 overtime win for Detroit.
Rookie Barret Jackman opened the scoring for St. Louis early in the third period with a strange goal. Curtis Joseph had slid across the net to block a shot by Cory Stillman. The shot was headed harmlessly wide anyway, but Joseph stumbled a little and kept right on sliding. When the puck bounced off the boards and back out front, Jackman was able to slap it into a wide open net.
The Red Wings had two power plays towards the end of the first period, but they weren’t able to get their scoring going until Dalls Drake took a cross-checking call early in the second. Brett Hull took a hard shot from the high slot which rang off the goalpost. The rebound came back to the left point, and Nick Lidstrom shot it back towards the net. Hull had kept moving in the meantime, and when goalie Fred Brathwaite left the puck loose on the side of the net, Hull was right there to chip it up high under the crossbar.
Jason Williams gave the Red Wings their first lead of the game with just under three minutes remaining in the second. Boyd Devereaux dumped the puck deep into the Blues’ zone just as he was being hit. Mathieu Dandenault got to it first and made a centering pass, again, just as he was being hit. Williams had just come off the bench and up to the play, and he one-timed Dandenault’s pass right into the net.
Scott Mellanby tied the game back up early in the third period. Dandenault was in the box for tripping, and the Blues showed a very efficient power play. Stillman brought the puck into the zone and left a drop pass for Mellanby, who let go a remarkably quick shot which sailed underneath Joseph’s glove.
Chris Chelios thought his goal would keep the game from overtime. It came with 2:52 left in regulation. Kris Draper won the faceoff cleanly back to Kirk Maltby, who passed the puck to Chelios. Chelios sent off a slapshot which hit the stick of one of the Blues on the way through, changing direction just enough to fool Brathwaite.
Unfortunately, a Jackman shot tipped into the net by Petr Cajanek just seconds later meant the game was heading to overtime after all. The Red Wings did get to start the extra period with a 4-on-3 advantage; Stillman was sent to the box for elbowing with 4 seconds left in the third period.
The penalty to Stillman had just expired when Henrik Zetterberg decided it was time for the game to be over. Jason Woolley sent a pass up to Zetterberg at the side of the net. It was a bad angle, but Zetterberg made the shot anyway and banked it into the net off of Brathwaite’s skate for his first career overtime goal and his seventh goal of the season.
The Red Wings outshot the Blues 30-26 overall, but the vast majority of those shots came in the second period. The Blues outshot the Wings in both the first and third periods.
The Red Wings’ next game will be Thursday night at home against the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are currently just one point behind Vancouver (yes, Vancouver; that’s not a typo) for control of the Northwest Division.
The Red Wings should have the results of the MRI on Manny Legace’s knee by tomorrow. Meanwhile, Marc Lamothe of the Griffins has been playing backup to Curtis Joseph…. Scott Mellanby’s goal was his 700th career point…. The illnesses of Igor Larionov and Tomas Holmstrom prompted Dave Lewis to temporarily move Mathieu Dandenault from defense back to right wing.